The 2016 Baystate Marathon

Hi friends!!!! On Sunday, October 16th-I ran the Baystate Marathon. It was my 6th Baystate. This is by far, my favorite course. I have so much to say about my PR race and thought it was time I did a recap☺️.

Sunday was SO MUCH FUN-I lived a lifetime of memories in one day and I’m going to do my best to sum it up here!

Friday.
Packet pickup on Friday with my twin, Nicole. I LOVE HER. We have been one another’s support system lately: all training considerations and thoughts are bounced off each other. We are so much alike and say that we “share a brain”. So OF COURSE  we had to do packet pickup together!

I had #11…how cool is that? (I always register RIGHT when registration opens!)

Friday night dinner: Steak tips and sweet potato.

Saturday.
I try to stay really low key the day before a marathon. I do little things like laundry and clean my bathroom (aka boring chores that I’ve been putting off forever and ever) and try to sit on my butt as much as I can!

I mostly hung out with my new puppy…LOOK AT THIS FACE!!!!!!!! His name is Tucker and I’m totally in love with this pup 🙂

Saturday night dinner: PIZZA!!! This is always my go to food before a race. THis time, it was the Polynesian pizza (Hawaiian pizza with bacon too)

Sunday: RACE DAY!!!!
Up at 5, race started at 8. Breakfast- one egg, a piece of toast, and some juice. Nothing new on race day! I made the decision to bring my hydration pack with me: I’ve never done this during a marathon before, but I had done a lot of pace miles with it on before and I felt confident that it was going to help me during the race!

My dad picked me up at 7 to bring me to the start. After my sweet Dad dropped me off, I stopped at the porta potties…And who immediately spots me upon my exit but one of my FAVORITE runners Francine! I LOVE HER SO MUCH!!! It was SO AWESOME to have a little pre-race chat with her!!

I met up with my running partner, Kristina and my twin Nicole … Then we connected with Marissa and Nari and it was the PERFECT pre-race moment!

We had some laughs, took some pictures and before we knew it….

(Kristina, me, and Nicole at the start)

IT WAS GO TIME!!!!!! (I wish I could use the new Iphone 10 update here & have fireworks go off for you as you’re reading this!–> I was that FREAKING excited and it felt like a PARTY was about to happen!!!)

I was in line for the start, and all of a sudden I heard my (main) running partner behind me: my friend Shannon! So exciting to see her right before the gun went off!!!!! We weren’t sure if we were going to bump into one another at the start, and normally she doesn’t bring her phone with her while she is racing so I hadn’t bothered to text her beforehand to meet up-so it was FATE that we found each other!

There is something about this marathon that always gets me: I’ll be standing there in the cold, shivering uncontrollably (partly from my excitement AND partly because I’m usually frozen). I always feel like I’m standing on the edge and about to fall into something wonderful. It’s a pretty special feeling and it makes me well up when I think about it! The way I see it is that we don’t get too many REALLY SPECIAL moments in life and if you are able to recognize ahead of time that THIS MOMENT that you are in RIGHT NOW is pretty magical? Well you are pretty darn lucky. My brain took a million tiny pictures that day because I KNEW it was going to be a great one.

The gun started and I forgot to start my watch! I think I started it at 15-20 ish seconds in? I also still ended up running 26.50 miles, even with the shorter time!

Shannon and I ended up running together for about 15 miles. Somewhere along miles 2-3, we talked briefly & decided we wanted to pace & push one another for as long as we possibly could. I felt pretty great for those first 15 miles…. Our pace felt really smooth, and Shannon and I are used to running together and push each other naturally so it felt like just another long run.

At mile 12, My stomach started to hurt… I felt like a hard weight was in my belly:it felt like cramps and intense GI pain combined. It was AWFUL. At mile 15, the pain was  I slowed down and couldn’t match Shannon’s pace anymore.

By 16- I knew I wasn’t going to make my goal time. and, over the next 10 miles, I stopped several times and walked for a few seconds. It was awful and I felt SO defeated.

By 18: I had to stop taking GU. I had sipped on one, slowly, for miles 6-9, and another from 12-14. But my 3rd GU, I literally couldn’t swallow it and I choked it up. My stomach was in so much pain & it didn’t want any food in it. I could still take in water and I’m really grateful for that because otherwise I would’ve gotten severly dehydrated.

At 19.5- I saw one of my good friends Kaelagh!!! I ALMOST MISSED HER BEAUTIFUL FACE!!!!!!! She was pulled over in the most random spot and I’m SO GRATEFUL for her because seeing her made me get out of my pity party/waaaaaaaahmbance!!!!!

I had told myself that I couldn’t do the MATH for my finishing time until mile 20. I knew that I had slipped to an 8 min/mile pace.. but: I knew that if I kept that pace up-I WAS STILL GOING TO PR with a 3:21/3:22 time.

I saw my friend Marli at both 13 & 22 (Baystate is primarily a double loop marathon course and certain spots along the course are great because spectators can see the runners twice)….I just love her positivity!!! At 13-I knew she was cheering me on-but by 22: I *NEEDED* to see her and was looking for her face in the crowd: she yelled to me on her megaphone that I was looking so strong and that I was a BEAST! 😘😍

Marli took this of me! Side Note: I will never race in this shirt again because it is way too big on me and NOT flattering at all, LOL!

For those last miles, I had to dig deeper than I have EVER had to dig!!! I kept telling myself that YEAH, I had a bad second half of the marathon, but I DID NOT/WOULD NOT/REFUSED to give up: I didn’t run all those crazy hard, and FAST workouts JUST to give up: I came to this race to mother f*ing PR!!!!!

The fact that I was going to PR got me to the finish line. Even if I didn’t hit my “A” goal of 3:15- I knew KNEW, without a shadow of a doubt that I was going to PR!

At mile 22: I kept saying in my head “Aly, my family, Aly, My family”

I knew my family was only 4 miles away: I NEEDED to see my daughters cute little face!!!!

I tried to speed up as much as one with basically crippled-feeling legs CAN actually speed up. I just wanted to finish! ((SOMEBODY TELL ME WHY PHEIDIPPIDES RAN 26.2 AND NOT LIKE 20??THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER JUST SAYING))

I kept thinking: OMG PLEASE LORD LET ME BE FREAKING DONE!!!!!!!

From then on it was a battle of ONLY the mind. I knew that I would be able to finish because my body is TOUGH. But I needed to actually see my People before I could quit…

At mile 25, I saw the adorable Katie cheering me on..and she is just as cute in person as on her IG!!!!!! (Sidenote: She walked to mile 25 to cheer on the marathon runners after she finished her half-SO BADASS)

And then, in all it’s red glory, came the Aiken St bridge (Ouellette Bridge), there was mile 26…at exactly 26.2: I had a 3:23:02 time on my watch. (Screw you long course!!!!)

I saw my family at 26.10 and they were SOOOO FREAKING LOUD and I know that I am SO DAMN LUCKY!!!!!!!! My daughter and my niece were jumping up and down and cheering for me!!!!!! I SPRINTED to the finish with a 6:30 pace and got an “official” PR of 3:25:25!!!!!!!!!!

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My SIL took this of me!

I set out to run a 3:15 marathon & It didn’t happen.

But what did happen:

I ran with my heart.

I dug so freaking deep into my soul to finish this run: it took everything out of me.

I learned how tough, physically & mentally that I really am.
First half:1:37
Second half: 1:48

Official finish time: 3:25:25

(again with the shirt-where did my shorts go????)

My watch -3:23:02 for 26.2, 3:25:02 for 26.50.
Don’t stop believing friends! 6:30 down to a 3:25. Sub 3:15… you will one day be MINE

Splits: 7:19, 7:01, 7:15, 7:15, 7:17, 7:28, 7:18, 7:24, 7:23, 7:23, 7:24, 7:25, 7:25, 7:43, 7:55, 8:15, 8:03, 7:58, 8:04, 8:00, 8:06, 7:57, 8:33, 9:15, 7:56, 8:01, 3:37 (.50)

My family and I at the finish!

One really amazing moment that I have to brag about: My twinnie, Nicole, GOT HER FIRST BQ!!!! Girlfriend got a 3:35 and we are BOTH going to the 2018 Boston Marathon! It was so special to see her after the marathon. My head is always a little foggy when I finish, and I wasn’t sure yet where exactly she was along the course. I was in the finisher’s chute, and all of a sudden-I looked up and THERE SHE WAS! I’m so PROUD of her for achieving her dream of a BQ. And you are only just beginning girlfriend! 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

After the race, we went to one of our favorite watering holes. I got a sandwich as big as my face….

My Niece and I have a tradition of her wearing my medal and us taking a picture with it 🙂

And some family pictures. Aly is pointing to me because she would like you to know that I am the champion!

More family pics 🙂

 

And I made my puppy wear my medal. How could I NOT????

 

And now you have the whole PR story. If you’ve made it this far- THANK YOU!!!!

Hollis Fast 5k

Hi! Remember me??? Don’t worry, I’m still alive and kicking! I’ve done a few races and 5ks lately (Boston to name one of them!) and I haven’t been motivated at all to write any sort of review- or post. I’m sorry. Please forgive me!

But Thursday night,  I raced the Hollis Fast 5k and I thought to myself:”I should really do a blog post on this one because it was really cool.”

Before I tell you about the race, I have to give you a small story: I didn’t run my first 5k until 2014. I have always been a distance runner, and I used to consider 5ks to be “beneath me”. HA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA. Oh Nicole. So silly. My first 5k was the Hinkley Allen Manchester 5k in July of 2014. My goal was to break 21 minutes. And I did, with a 20:50. After that first 5k I said 3 things:

-I feel like i’m going to puke (I didnt’)
-i hated that
-I want to break 20 minutes.

5k’s are my “scariest” race distance. So how do you get over that “I’m freaking terrified right now” feeling? YOU DO MORE OF THEM. I have never been able to truly find my rhythm in this distance. It’s so short that you really don’t have time to make anything up, and if you’re looking to push it, you’ve got to do it from the very start. It’s truly 3.10 miles of riding the Pain Train. Sometimes I crash and burn, and sometimes I feel good the whole race only to realize later that the only reason that I felt good is because I didn’t push it enough.

In 2015, I set a new PR at the same 4th of July race that I did in 2014. New PR: 20:07. On my bday this year, (May 1st) I ran a 5k in town (because why NOT run a race on your birthday??). It wasn’t a chip timed race and I ran a 20:17. However, when I uploaded my Garmin later and reviewed the splits, my watch said a ran a 20:05. If I hadn’t run 16 miles the day before, I KNOW I would have PR’d by more than only 2 seconds!

So I was heading into the Hollis Fast 5k with the knowledge that I was GOING TO PR. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind. My mental game was STRONG.

 

The Pre Race Stuff Logistics:
The Hollis Fast 5k was one of the best races I’ve ever run in my life. There are so many good things to say about it that I’m afraid I’ll forget a few! It was extremely well organized and a closed course- I LOVE THE CLOSED COURSE.Runners had the option of picking up your bib at a local running store, or on site the day of. Since I like running stores, and since I like this particular running store (Fleet Feet), I opted to pick up my bib ahead of time. (bonus to Fleet Feet for including a 20% off coupon on the back of the runners’ bibs!) 

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OH. I haven’t mentioned the course and elevation profile yet, have I? Well take a look at the elevation profile….

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AMAZING. Now you can see why I was so excited, right??? The race drops 224 feet over the 3.1 miles and it is a point to point course. You are basically running on one road for the whole race-there is one turn. I loved that. Compared to some races (like the Good times race series) that are filled with a TON of twists -it was really refreshing to run this course!!!

A lot of runners commented on the IG post that I wrote about this elevation profile and how it looked like a race to blow your quads. It really wasnt though…The downhill is very slight, and I found it easy and not very steep. So instead of feeling like you could be falling down the hills because your pace feels out of control, it is more of a manageable decline.

The Race email suggested that runners arrive early: to the 6:30 start: This is a 5k that 1400 people registered for…holy smokes that’s a lot of peeps for a 5k! I knew it would be busy, so I listened and got to my parking lot by 5:15. Runners were bussed to the starting line (that is something new-to-me for a 5k!)

The weather was PERFECTION for race day: I was in a skirt and tank, and wore a sweatshirt to the start because I was a little chilly. There was a slight breeze and for the first time EVER, I didn’t actually mind the wind because it was a freaking TAILWIND that blew us down the course!!!!! I have done so many races where I’ve been too hot, too cold, it was too windy, etc…All The Stars aligned and the Running Gods were smiling down on me!!!!

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Once I arrived at the race start, I hit the porta potty, took my GU, and just waited around a little bit. I didn’t run into any trouble with lines, and I saw several porta potties-and still never really noticed a line at any of them. So either people used their own bathrooms at home, or lines moved fairly quickly! It suddenly occurred to me about 15 minutes from go time that I forgot to:

a.) warmup
b.) make a playlist.

Are you kidding me??? I’m chalking this up to the fact that my brain was centered around a new 19:xx PR!

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Stuck this penny made by one of my besties in my little zippered pocket. It can’t hurt to have luck on your side, right???

After a 3/4 minute jog around the school lot, I checked my sweatshirt with the gear bus, and went to line up out front. I spotted the lovely Run Far Girl and went into total fangirl mode. I had to say hi to her because I love her IG, her merchandise, and her positive attitude that she always displays! Plus I love reading all of her mom posts! It was so nice to meet her!

 

THE RACE.
Before I knew it, I was off! I didn’t want to look at my watch unless I felt my pace was slipping. I always go out too fast in 5ks and I didn’t want to make that mistake this time. I also wanted to go by perceived effort. I kept the pace pretty even and I reminded myself that this was MY RACE. For once, I didn’t care about placing or winning or any other crap like that. I didn’t care if anyone passed me or passing people: I was solely focused on A NEW PR.

The first mile felt good, a little painful as most 5ks feel to me. I got out of my own head and beat the Negative Nancy’s way down. I had no idea of the pace I was keeping, I focused on even effort, breathing, and letting Rihanna and Calvin Harris sing to me. First mile clicked in 6:18!

2nd mile: I knew that, in order get a PR of 19:50-19:55, I would need to keep the pace under 6:30. I kept saying to myself “just keep it under 6:30, you can do this.” I felt really good and snuck a peek at my watch…6:11! YOWZA. I tried to just keep this pace which made me realllly happy! I started to pass people, mentally high fiving them in my head. I don’t know about you, but I can’t get out a single word when I’m running a 5k!!! I tried to focus on the race report that I read and remembered that the writer said when there were flat areas, he would tell himself to just keep this pace for a little while longer and it would start to go downhill again. The 2nd mile was by far my favorite mile: there was a really pretty field, and this was the mile that I felt the best in. My watch clicked in 6:06—> I actually couldn’t tell this because there was an instagram notification blocking half of my screen. (Note to self to turn off notifications when I’m in a race!)

3rd mile: I shall refer to this mile as the death march mile. Gahhhhhh. It was terrible. I wanted to cry. Everything hurt! Where I was able to speed up considerably in the 2nd mile, by the 3rd my whole body was like “Betch please, we’ve had ENOUGH!” The best part of the 3rd mile is that there are signs when you have 1 mile to go, .75, .50, .25…that was a freaking godsend!!!!!!! I kept saying to myself “JUST MAKE IT TO THE NEXT SIGN.” I saw my pace slip from 6:12 alll the way up to 6:25. I ended up running the 3rd mile in 6:32. (I know, i know, it’s not a bad pace, but it wasn’t the great paces I held in the first 2 miles!) 

I spied the finish line and I was sooooo happy!!! I went through under the clock reading that it was 19:47!!!!!!!! I was so happy and crossed with the BIGGEST SMILE on my face! I stopped, crouched on the ground, and kissed the asphalt (YUP, I was that crazy girl…) because I couldn’t believe the new PR that I had wanted for SO LONG was all MINE!!!!!!!

Official Gun Time: 19:45 🙂 🙂 :). I was the 23rd female. To place in the top 25 for this race is really darn good!

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Here I am crossing the finish line with a big fat smile. And as you can see, I really did kneel down and say a little prayer of thanks!

So lets talk about some of the things that went right:
-Number pickup the day before was really quick and easy, and so was the parking day of. I was pretty close to the finish line, so I was able to jog the mile-ish back to my car post race.

-The weather. OMG I loved it.

-My attitude. Going into a race with an attitude that you are going to PR is HUGE. The power of positivity is a real thing. The only way I can describe how I felt all day is to say this: I felt like I was standing on the ledge of a cliff and about to fall into something GREAT. The nerves were excitement, not stress nerves. It was a really great thing to feel.

-I was my own cheerleader. I backed, no PUSHED myself out of the dark corners of my mind, and I was yelling at myself that I knew I could do it, and I knew I could be better than what I was.

-The Course. While I did certainly love that it was a downhill course, I feel that I have learned how to really push myself towards new PR’s. I think the course was just a minor thing and that me giving it my best was the real winner.

What went wrong….
Too often runners (myself INCLUDED!!) focus on what went wrong during a race. The only thing that I think slowed me down was the fact that I’ve been doing a lot of BBG lately and even though I skipped leg day for the week, there are still plenty of burpees and squats in the other days that left my legs sore. But, I really love BBG and wasn’t willing to skip the whole week!!!

This race showed me that I should be shooting for a sub 19:30 time: If I had stayed at my average combined pace for my first 2 miles, I would have wound up with a 19:15 -19:20 5k time. Now I know what to shoot for next!!! I loved this course, and I love running downhill. I think the downhill course helped me get the PR, but I also think that my positive attitude made me kill this race and I feel very good about duplicating this effort on a regular course!

Thanks for reading!

Ever had a race day where EVERYTHING went right for you?? (it is MAGICAL when this happens!)

2015 Baystate Marathon Recap 

Congrats to all of my fellow Baystate Marathoners who completed the half or full this past weekend! It was a very cold and windy day and we DID IT!! I’m sorry for the delay in the recap, but today was really the first day that the fog has lifted from my brain because I have been so very sick.

Before I launch into my recap, I want to say THANK YOU to the Baystate Marathon race director, Glenn Stewart and the Baystate staff. This is the second year that I have been their official race blogger and its an honor to represent this amazing race. It’s run by the Greater Lowell Road Runner’s (which I just proudly joined!) and they put on a terrific day for runners. Their tagline is “for runners/ by runners” and it really is. The expo is run by its members and always feels very home-y to me. I say it all the time-The Baystate Marathon is my favorite marathon. It’s well organized, staffed, and I always feel completely safe when I’m running it. The course itself is terrific and usually there are some gorgeous trees to help get your mind off the 26.2 miles. This past Sunday did not disappoint. If I wasn’t running a race, I would have stopped a whole bunch of times to take pics because the trees were STUNNING!! (Sidenote: I had the honor of being #10 this year because I was the very first person to register. This is how much I love this race:))

Let’s back up to taper week: Wednesday, I began to develop a slight cough but didn’t think much of it. Thursday, the cough progressed and I could feel it taking root in my lungs and couldn’t stop coughing. I asked my IG running community for help and was BLOWN away by their quick responses: Since last Thursday, I’ve been drinking Emergen-C and special teas, swallowing Zinc, downing Apple Cider Vinegar shots, making homemade concoctions, and sleeping/hydrating a TON. These things helped the congestion in my lungs a little bit but the cold still worsened. By Saturday, it was in my head, and by Sunday, I couldn’t even pop my ears due to massive head congestion.

I really weighed my options because lets face it– doing a marathon when you’re sick isn’t very fun. There are a few other full marathons that I’ve always been interested in so I thought about signing up for one of those with the hope that my cold would be gone by then. But my brain kept going back to these thoughts:
-I’m perfectly tapered for Baystate. What would happen if I pushed the race out 1,2, even 3 weeks??
-My family was ready to come to the race
-I trained all summer along the course
-ITS MY FAVORITE MARATHON!!!!!

So I told myself that even though I didn’t know if I could meet my goal for the race, I would still go out and try my very best. If I ended up feeling worse, I knew I could call my husband or my dad to come and pick me up. (I didn’t have a fever, and if I did? I definitely wouldn’t have done the race.)

The weather dawned bright and sunny…but COLD. I didn’t want to wear a lot of layers during the race, so I figured I’d just try to keep on the bulky layers until I got warm. I thought that I would be warm by the 2nd mile (that’s my typical mile that I throw my clothes away) I wore my original Lionness skirt, this sports bra, black arm warmers, black compression socks, pink tank top, cute new Chica bands headband I bought at the expo. 

It was a whole lot colder than what I’ve been used to lately. Before Sunday, the coldest run that I had done so far was 50 degrees. My Garmin says that it was 28 degrees and I think that feels right! I got to the start at 7:30. My dad got as close to the starting line as he possibly could and dropped me off. He told me to call him if I needed a pickup. I didn’t have long to stand and wait around and for THAT, I am so grateful!

I saw a few friends before the start, dropped off my bag, and lined up with the 3:15 pace group. My plan was to stay with them through the half and if I felt good, I could branch out on my own. If I wasn’t feeling like I could go any faster-I would try to stay with them, or, as close to them as possible. BUT… This was my plan pre-illness. I definitely felt that it was doable, but with a head/chest cold,  I had no idea what would happen.

I could barely even hear the National Anthem being sung because my ears were blocked. And I don’t remember a whole lot about standing in the starting corral-I think i was a little surprised that I was running a marathon and it felt a little surreal. I blame that on the cold meds…. BLAAA. I had a thick fleece on over my cute outfit, and underneath that-a throw away sweatshirt and gloves. I disposed of the fleece right as the anthem was finished being sung..seriously…it was SO DAMN COLD that I could hardly bear to part with it. I didn’t even realize until I sat down to write this post that I took no pictures of my race outfit, and no pictures of me at the starting line.. It really didn’t even occur to me. I was way too nervous about racing while being sick since it’s something I’ve never done before.

The gun went off promptly at 8 (I love that) and we were off!

  I tried to snap a good picture of my pace group leaders shirt but it was tough!

Miles 1-9.
I learned from my mistakes of running in a large group from last year: The orange cones lining the course  tripped me up…a lot. I didn’t want it to happen again, so I stayed at the back of the pace group. It was primarily men and just 2 other girls… If I fell….I would have gotten stomped on by really tall men!

I didn’t shed my gloves until mile 7…and even then I was really hesitant to do it. I was a little sweaty and it was either toss the gloves-or toss the sweatshirt. I didn’t want to get to a situation where I was suddenly walking and freezing and wishing I hadn’t thrown it away so the gloves were tossed. As soon as I tossed them, I immediately cooled. I’m now wondering if I should’ve kept the gloves and tossed the sweatshirt because I never warmed up again and kept that damn ugly, old sweathshirt on for 26.2 miles. (and it was an old zip up shirt that I think I got from high school!)) 

I stayed with the pace group this whole time. Everything still felt good, and I figured I had a good chance to hit the goal I wanted to hit.

Mile 10.
My cute running partner Kristina told me to look for her family  at mile 10 and I ALMOST MISSED HER and the GIANT AMAZING sign she made me!! I asked her how I was doing and she said GREAT and that the 3:15 pace group was right ahead of me and that my goal was going to happen. She told me she’d be there for the second loop and I’d see her at Mile 20.

Mile 11.
Tra la la la la! I get to see my friend again at mile 20! Yay!

Mile 12.
Rourke Bridge- See my friend Marli and I’m SO thriled that I face planted into her to give her a hug. She tells me to keep going and that I’m doing GREAT!

Mile 13.
I’m tired.

Mile 14.
I think the pity party started right around then. I didn’t want to be there, I wanted to go back to bed, I wanted to be warm…I wanted a lot of things. I think this was also when I realized the 3:15 pace group was a little farther ahead of me than what I’d planned. I thought to myself “It’s ok! The 3:25 group hasn’t passed me yet! I’m good.”

Mile 15/16/17.
My breathing started to feel really laborious (that’s what happens when you run IN the cold WITH a cold, duh), and I saw the 3:25 pacer’s shadow over my shoulder as they slowly passed from behind me.(((SIGH))) #Sadness. It’s really hard to remember a lot of details from around that time besides hitting the WALL. I WANTED to go home with Kristina when I saw her. Or call my Dad. I just didn’t want to be there anymore and marathons are dumb, and running when you’re sick is dumb and I probably was even thinking that running itself is dumb. Sniffle sniffle, cough cough, and cue the Waaaahhmbulance!!

30k:
I hit the 30k in 2:24 and I remembered that when I did Stu’s 30k back in March, I ran that in 2:45. I realized things might not be that bad after all.

Mile 19.
I GET TO SEE MY FRIEND IN A MILE AND IF I WANT, SHE WILL TAKE ME HOME. 

Mile 20/21
I see my beautiful friend, running towards me! I tell her how sad I am about the 3:25 group passing, and she lets me continue to cry and moan to her. Then she tells me she’s going to run with me for a little while. (company is amazing during a marathon, FYI) She starts telling me funny stories of her day of spectating. She gets me out of my own head. Along mile 20, I also saw my beautiful running partner S! I almost missed her TOO because I was looking down at the road! She brought her kids to cheer me on and it was amazing! I only wish I could’ve stopped to hug her, but I’m not sure I would have finished if I did that!!!

Kristina and I hit mile 21 and she told me that she has to turn around and get back to her husband and cute little baby. She said that she KNEW I was going to finish and at that moment? I knew it too. I am 100% positive that I would’ve given up if it weren’t for her words of encouragement. She was really sore from her tempo workout the day before, but she still pushed me to get my pace faster because she knew exactly what I needed at that exact moment. I’m forever grateful for what she did for me! Never underestimate the healing power of friendship!!

Mile 22
4 miles left? I can do 4 miles in my sleep! I picked up the pace a little because I was almost done!

Mile 23.
I felt so strong mile 23! I started to pass people and dream of a martini and French fries!

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but my stepdaughter was going to be at the finish line with my SIL, my MIL, and my niece. I said “my family is at the finish line” over and over in my head and it became my mantra. I was so excited to see my little’s face!!

Mile 24
This was my slowest mile, and I don’t know why. My legs felt like they were moving fast but my split ended up being an 8:58.

Mile 25…almost there…Mile 26…yay! I happened to look down at my watch at exactly 26.2 miles and it read 3:25:50. I guess it’s a PR from my 3:28:07… But it’s not official so I have a hard time considering it an actual PR.

I crossed the finish line, officially, with a 3:28:33. 26 seconds off of my “official PR”, and pretty far away from the time goal I had set.

Over the first few days of being sick, I think I went through the denial stages and I definitely struggled the most with “anger.” Of all the times to get sick (and I’m NEVER sick): its the week of my big race. What dumb bad luck. But you can’t plan everything, and I definitely trained like a bad-ass for 4 months and did the hard work. “It is what it is” and I DO know that I had a terrific time-whether I was sick or not. A 3:28 is fantastic: It’s a BQ with lots of cushion . I didn’t enjoy myself as much as I usually do during a race. I just love this course and to be sick while running it…well. It just wasn’t as fun as it normally is for me!

Some fun pictures from the day…

This is right where my family is standing. I’m waving both hands because they were on BOTH sides of the street, haha.



I was immediately a popsicle after the finish and I regretted not packing a blanket in my bag. SO freaking COLD outside!!

  This is one of my favorite pictures of all time. You can’t really tell, but that’s my little one bundled up in this coat. SHe was hugging me for so long telling me she was proud of me. It meant the world to me that SIL captured it 🙂


This is my girlfriend Kaey who volunteered that day. She had a bunch of friends who were running and thought it would be fun to volunteer. I LOVE her. Anyway, someone snapped this pic of us and I know for a fact that I was feeling like I was going to pass out right here and Kaey walked with me for a while until I got my feet back! Thanks girlfriend!

  Kaey made us some signs 🙂

Family hugs 🙂


After the race, it was off to our local watering hole! (We go to the same place every year.) Every year-> my niece and I take a picture together. I love that she comes to all my finish lines, too because she’s the funniest/sweetest thing!


Being silly with the hubs 🙂


The SILS and our photo bombers!


Me with my little ladies 🙂

 

And some of the professional pictures:

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See?? I told you I kept the sweatshirt on ALL DAY!

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This pic above?? THIS is my very favorite racing photo of ALL TIME. And I run a whole lot of races so THAT is saying something my friends!


This years medal were STUNNING. They are red to signify the LAST of the bridges that the runners cross (it’s red :))

 

I didn’t get the time I wanted, but you know what? It was still a very good day. I ran my favorite race and was blown away by all the support I received. I felt the love all around me! That’s the most important thing. I had my family there for me, my friends, and all of YOU in my corner..so THANK YOU.

I have to say that running is a lifetime sport for me. That’s always in the back of my mind. And, I’m learning that PR’s and official times don’t define me. You are great even without the “great” times. That being said… I will get my goal someday and I’m not worried about it 🙂

And oooone more picture:

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This is a “throwback” to my very first Baystate Marathon. You can see how little Aly is! She was only 5 here 🙂 I will never forget this race, as long as I live: This was the first time I was ever able to break the 5 hour mark with a time of 4:17-I think it was a PR of about 45 minutes for me. Knowing that I could do something so amazing gave me a LOT of hope. I’ve kind of taken that hope and run with it over the years. I will never ever give up on my dreams, and neither should you. It’s ok to miss a time goal you set for yourself because it just gives us more inspiration to go out and knock it out of the park next time.

 

Thank you for reading this really obnoxiously long post 🙂 And as always, Run Free, Run Strong my friends!

xoxo

I did it!

I can’t believe I’m writing this sentence: 

Last night, I broke my 5k PR by 43 seconds! My new PR is 20:07!!!!! 

   Wearing the same outfit as last year for the same 5k..only I added the 4th of July socks! (I bought those last year for the same race and they didn’t arrive until July 5th)

7th woman out of 464, 26th finisher, 2nd in AG!

I’m also giving a big fat shout out to my friend M! (We are twinning here, and we did last year, too…good times& it’s really easy to find someone who’s dressed identically to you!!) You might remember me telling you that M was out of the running game for a while because she had a baby. We ran our first post baby 5k together at the beginning of June. Last night, she smashed that June time by 2 minutes!!! I’m so proud of her!  Twinning!

Thanks everyone for sending me those speedy thoughts! I think that & the gorgeous weather and very low humidity helped me get this very crazy awesome PR! I’m so close to breaking 20–I can smell it!! 

Happy 4th of July, everyone. Today I get to celebrate America’s birthday with my family, I hope the same for you! Thank you to all who have served and fought for America’s Independence!    

 

Oh thank goodness…

that it’s Friday!!! Anybody else feel like this week went by at a snails pace??? Well, we made it!! Finally!!!

I don’t have anything very deep for you today. It’s been a crazy busy week and I a little bit sad! My seniors are gone! This year, I became extremely close with a lot of my kids-they were a wonderful group of young adults! That being said, I’m going to miss them a ton. Goodbyes are never easy, and this week I held back tears many times to say goodbye to some of my most favorite kiddos I have ever had!!

Besides being an emotional basket case- I ran a 5k on Tuesday! Another Good times 5k…and it was about 90 at the start with 60ish% humidity. Fun.

(Temp an hour after the start…still hot)

I was not ready to race again in the heat. Combined with some especially fun female problems-this was just not fun running! It was so crazy hot and I could feel myself wheezing at the pollen swirling up into my nose/eyes,  and the humidity taking ALL the breathability out of the air. I can sum up the race in a few sentences:

-I wanted to stop and be a cheerleader.

-I hated running and didn’t want to run again everrrrr. And especially not a 5k…..

-I was not in the mood to push the pace.

My official time was 21:55. 52 secs slower than my time a few weeks ago. 5th woman, 2nd AG. I will never get over the fact that a 5k feels longer to me than a marathon.  It’s bizarre. Anyway. It was a good speed workout and even though I’m disappointed in my time- I didn’t dwell on it at all. I want to hit a sub 20 minute time at a 4th of July race that I’m doing- this is the “big” 5k race for me for the summer- I think I can do it, but I know that I will have to get better at being uncomfortable at pushing the pace. it just isn’t something that I’m used to! The more 5k’s I do, the more I will become adapted to it. And I keep telling myself that “anyone can do hard things for 20 freaking minutes so get over it Nicole.” I have to build my 5k confidence! Also, I have decided that I would love someone to pace me during my 5k race…any takers???

  I literally envisioned this beer for the entire 3.19 miles. It was cold, It had ice chips in it, and it was heavenly. I am hugging it because it made me so happy! (don’t mind the makeup basically dripping off my face. This is what happens when you don’t have time to wash your face in between work and running a 5k!)


This is the Good Times 5k crew. We are currently thinking about doing the entire weekly summer series together!!
    

 I’m to enjoy the weekend with family and friends! Maybe one day soon I will get back into a consistent posting pattern!?

Have a wonderful weekend everybody!

Gate City Striders Inaugural Marathon

 Just a little disclaimer: I feel the need to start this recap with the cold hard facts: I ran a marathon on Sunday…but…I did not finish.

Sunday was the Inaugural Gate City Striders Marathon in Nashua New Hampshire. I woke up so excited to run another race! I love new races, and I love races in my ares. A WIN WIN in my book!!! Nashua is only about 20 minutes from my house-Perfection.

Packet pickup was located at Fleet Feet Sports in Nashua, also nearby-only 15 minutes away. I was able to go on Saturday –I love picking up my packet early, but sometimes that isn’t possible due to the race being further away. The swag bag was great! Lots of fun goodies in it and I love that!( I wasn’t one of the earlier registrants, so I didn’t get the Beer Glass or the race T.)

I laid out all my clothes the night before (duh) and went to bed super early…I think 8?

flat Nicole!

I got to the starting area around 7:30am..
I was able to park RIGHT next to the start, and had enough time to use the porta potties beforehand and take a selfie and check out the cool tents lined up.
 So excited to run!

This race was both a full marathon and a relay race: The finish line was actually the central area of the race, and the course is designed as 5 loops that make up a four leaf clover (the first & fifth loop were the same). Runners passed the finish line area and were either swapping off the baton to their next runner, or continuing on (like me) for the full 26.2. (If you are really curious, you can read the great write up on cool runnings about the race). It seemed that every relay group had their own tent set up…pretty cool! This race was a terrific one to spectate at since you would see your runner several times as they went through the finish chute, instead of the usual drive and hope you actually find them deal that typically happens.

I took this before I started-this is the finish line that all runners pass through with every loop. It was lined with people one the race started!!


course design-four leaf clover!

The race started about 10ish minutes later than its 8am start due to a main intersection in the race not being blocked off yet. (It’s a super busy intersection, and I was more than happy to wait until it was completely closed off!) Runners were treated to church bells at 8am sharp-That was seriously beautiful.

As far as my own personal race goes: It’s not really that interesting. I had an off day, and that off day also coincided with a marathon. Go figure! If you would have told me that on Sunday I would wake up, start a marathon, but not finish I would have told you that you were crazy. The first loop (5.4 miles I think?), my splits were great. I should have known it was a bad sign though that when I would see someone with a baton, I would automatically think “oh wow they only have a little longer left.” And then I would wish I only had a little longer left. And then loop 2 my splits dropped from 7:19 to 8:30…and only got worse from there. It was hot by the start- I’m typically in a sweatshirt until I hit mile 2…but i was comfy in a tank and my skirt from the time i stepped out of my car. At race start, it was about 65 and 88% humidity. By the 2nd loop, it was easily above 70, and by the time I hit the 3rd – it was at least 75. I couldn’t stand it! I love running in the heat, but my body is not adjusted to it yet! After a loooong cooooold terrible winter, I’m still adjusting to the warm weather. I was dragging the entire 2nd loop. When my watch clicked 11, I had just passed through the finishers chute and I wanted to call it a day RIGHT then and there. However, the stubborn girl who loves her weekend long runs reared her ugly head, and I slogged through the 3rd. It was like I had sand bags on my legs. I could already feel how badly my sweat was making me chafe! I was REALLY glad that I had my camelbak with me because the water stops were spaced out at every 3 miles (i think) and it wouldn’t have been enough water for me! And, I only had one GU along the whole route- I wasn’t even hungry! So weird.

I really liked the concept of loops! Every time I passed through, I got the energy of the crowds, and the announcer called my name. Thank you Mr Announcer Man! The whole 3rd loop was torture. I was sore all over, hot, whiny, and just plain old miserable. I had no desire to run another 10 miles at the turtle like pace i was holding. No matter WHAT i did, I just could NOT speed up. So annoying!! So i passed the finish line for the 3rd time, got some water, and called it a day. My body just did not want to be running a hot and humid marathon!

Ironically, I truly believe that running Boston a month prior had zero to do with how I felt this past Sunday. I know my body, and my body felt ready all week for a big, really fast marathon. I had a 16 mile long run 2 weeks before this in 2:06, 7:54 pace. . . and that run was a dream and felt so super easy. Sunday was just not a good day. I’m really okay with it, so please don’t think I”m complaining here!

Some facts for you that didn’t fit in:

-The volunteers + police =amazing. I NEVER questioned, even ONCE, where I was supposed to be going. All the volunteers were in these BRIGHT orange shirts- you couldn’t miss them! And I really felt that the police officers were there protecting the runners. I never had to stop to wait as a car went by, and I felt safe the whole day. There were a million orange cones, too, so you clearly knew where you were going!

-The 3rd loop, although slow (for me) was actually my favorite for its scenery. It was through my favorite parts of Mines Falls. I’ve run in that area a ton of times-It’s SO beautiful! The Gate City Striders did an incredible job of marking each individual tree root/uneven spot/rock etc so that the runners wouldn’t fall. (I took two falls the last time I ran the Mines Falls trails!)

-At the beginning of the race, some of the early start runners passed by. The announcer yelled out that there was a woman named Kerrie and she was running her ONE HUNDREDTH MARATHON that day!!! Can you believe it? She is AMAZING! I passed her around mile 14 (?) and had to stop and take a picture with her! You ROCK Kerrie!!!!!!

-I’m not only chafed, i’m covered in WELTS from my sweat. So painful. On my neck (sports bra) legs, back, underarms….. It’s seriously aggravating. I guess the “Summer of Chafe” is upon us again. Boooooo. And I had applied Body glide that morning too, but it didn’t do anything!

-I did a quick change post only-a-17-miler-and-not-a-full-marathon…and went to my favorite nephews 10th birthday!! These two..Be still my heart! They are the best little people I could ask for to be my niece and nephew!

-Above all? I am REALLY excited to race again. I have in mind SO many half marathons, am racing a bunch of 5k’s, and I’m just super excited to get back to higher mileage again. I have a pretty amazing running plan for the summer, and I’m really excited to hit it, and hit it hard!

I would highly recommend this marathon to anyone! I I will absolutely be back again, and next time-I will finish the full..or form a relay team and customize awesome race shirts for us!! Who wants to be on my team???? 🙂

Ever “DNF” a race? (for the record–> I dislike that term and it kills me to use it)

Just a little recap!

Thank you SO MUCH for all of your well wishes this weekend. Positive energy for me through that course, for sure! 

I’ll have a full recap Wednesday/Thursday at some point…I woke up Monday with a sore throat(of all the days!) and being outside in the pouring wet rain and a wind tunnel for the day didn’t help and now I seem to have developed a full-on cold. It will Be lots of sleep and rest for this girl!!!

Monday was amazing. I didn’t hit my goal but I do not care. I managed to BQ again for Boston at Boston. That has always been a bucket list goal of mine and I did it!!!!!!!!

   

  

I’m hugging Michele, my patient partners mom! A friend of my SILS happened to be nearby while I was hugging her and caught a few shots! Priceless!!  

 

Thank you, thank you from the very bottom of my heart 💙💛💙💛

  

If I didn’t have bad luck I would have no luck?

What a weird week.

First of all…. I have to say I’m really sorry to all of my readers, and also, sorry to my fellow bloggers…I’m really having an “off” week this week. I have not really sat down at all to write or read blogs. UGH. I’m not liking that. Work has been exhausting. Sometimes I swearNOT taking a vaca is actually easier than taking one. It’s crazy how much there is to do when you get back. Good thing I was well rested to take on the post vaca stress? Hmmmm….

So. My next race was cancelled/postponed: I am Two for two.

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(Insert all the swear words here_____________)

I picked the Black Cat out around the same time I had signed up for Hyannis . It is was only two weeks post Hyannis…however, I knew I wanted another race to re-motivate myself towards keeping up my Boston mileage. Although I didn’t register for it until Hyannis was cancelled-in my brain I was always planning to run it. They postponed/cancelled it this Tuesday. Two for two within a week. I hate you, winter 2015.

SO, it was back to the drawing board.…this meant ANOTHER big discussion with my coach on my training, race schedule, future marathons etc…. please let this be the last change up for a while?! please and thank you.

Still, even though it seems things always have a way of working out, I’m sad! My husband says I’m being extremely dramatic and there isn’t any reason for me to get upset. In his words: “You run 500,000 races, and you’re probably going to run 500,000 more.” While All Of That is certainly true–> im just having a hard time getting/staying excited & motivated about running a different race. I was ALL fired up about Hyannis. And BAM! Cancelled. Then I decided to get excited (again!) over Black Cat. I know I should be more “just go with it” but come on now.. when the heck will these weather malfunctions be over? I don’t even have an end date in mind AND, at this point–> I’m seriously hoping there is no snow at Boston. For real, that is not a joke, I’m ACTUALLY worried about the giant snowpiles still being here towards the end of April.

What irks me THE MOST about cancelled races is that I’m still willing to spend MORE MONEY for another one! Yup: I’m mad at ME! As soon as a race is cancelled- I am immediately going into die hard research mode. Let’s be serious-At this point I know just about all of the area races by heart, anyway. YUP..I know where all the races are, and their dates…you could quiz me.. . My coach and I decided on a local half who’s original date had been changed from Feb 22 to March 15. Because it is ALWAYS the same day as Hyannis, I never run it because it means choosing, and i just love the Hyannis Marathon. I actually emailed the race director to ask if they have any forseeable plans on canceling … If I have ANOTHER race cancel on me, I’m going to lose my ****. Hopefully she doesn’t judge me too much because I put that in the email… #sorryimnotsorry. I will consider my emailing skillzzzz to be a step in the right direction...#imgettingsmarter

I am REALLY excited about my long run this weekend. It’s going to be HARD, but so, so worth it. This coach of mine is really working me hard and i like it. 🙂

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In other news of Things To Be Excited About… my benefit is on Saturday night..Its an amazing time with amazing people for an amazing cause! 🙂 I think I will do a rare “Saturday post” with some Benefit Throwbacks over the past 8 years!

This weekend one of MY FAVORITES is running her third marathon…The Phoenix Marathon! Please join me in wishing her THE BEST DAMN RACE EVER!!!!!! XOXO Hugs and Kisses, Suz!

HAPPY WEEKEND !!!! Tell me something you’re looking forward to!!

Amazing Race Entry giveaway-yeah that means FREE!!!!

***UPDATED 3/22/14 at 6:45 am-THE WINNER IS ERIN AT GoSuperMamaGo! Congratulations, lady! Email at TheGirlWhoRanEverywhere@gmail.com and I will give you the code!

I could not be more any more excited than I am RIGHT NOW to be raffling off this sweet, sweet prize!

On Sunday July 13, I will be running in the Naragansett Running Festival.
I ended up registering for it yesterday because it was SO reasonable($49) and the price goes up come April 1st. Since I was going to do it anyways, I thought “hey, why not be ahead of the game for once and book early!” I booked the half marathon, but the course has a 5k and a 10k.

I reached out to the race director, Jason Paganelli to see if he would be willing to exchange a race entry for my publicity and promoting of his race…He was all in!
Really, he was awesome and now I am even more excited to run this race…Come on July!

Jason wrote back to me (and very quickly, too-major bonus points!):

I love when runners are so passionate about what they do that they share it with others.

How cool is that?! Thank you Jason!

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(source)
Where is it?
The race is in Easton and Stoughton MA beginning at Stonehill College and through the surrounding neighborhoods. I picked it because it’s only about an hour away from my house, looks like a gorgeous course, and they have live music and beer at the end. #winnawinnachickendinna. I also read a few reviews on it that said it was mostly trails, and I LOVE that.

Um, Nicole…it’s JULY,though?? Won’t it be hot?
Average high temp is 82, average low temp is 66. My kinda weather! Now I love the heat: but not everybody is as crazy as me does..but let me tell you: they have partnered with several houses in the area to let the runners run through their sprinklers..
SO. FREAKING. FUN!! So let’s go be kids who play in sprinklers 😄

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At the end of the half, there is Naragansett beer(yum!) and tons of food for the runners…plus..live entertainment and giveaways! How can you not want to enter?

It sounds like an absolute BLAST! I can’t wait to run and post a review on it!

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The official race description on their website:

The 13.1 Mile course will take you through the beautiful scenic sections of Easton and Stoughton Massachusetts. Leaving from Stonehill College and crossing over Washington Street, you’ll head into the “Sheep Pasture” operated by the Natural Resources Trust of Easton, and exit onto Main Street. From there, you’ll head into the rolling neighborhoods that will take you into the Ames Lond Pond area of Stoughton, where you’ll take on a few challenging climbs, passing ponds and farmland as you go. Being a lollipop-style course, you’ll eventually hit some long rolling downhills to soon reconnect with the route you took away from Stonehill. Once on Stonehill College campus again, you’ll merge with the majority of the 5k/10k course to share the finish with the other runners. 95% of this course is paved road, with 3 quick dirt-road sections that are located toward the start of the race and just before you come into the final mile. All courses are highlighted by a quick but challenging final hill that leads you into the finish.

So for all of you out there looking to sign up for a race please enter my giveaway! You can enter and pick the race of your choice. It will begin today, Saturday, March 15, 2014 and run through Saturday, March 22, 2014.

How To Enter:
1.) In the comment field below, write “I WANT TO RUN NARAGANNSETT:”
2.) Blog Followers: Whether you’re brand new(Welcome! Hi!) or have been along for the ride, Post a separate comment stating “I’m a blog follower” for an extra entry.
To “follow” my blog, enter your email address into the top right

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3.) Twitter Followers: Same rules as above: Follow me on Twitter @bostongirlruns for yet another extra entry, and post a separate comment below stating “I follow you on Twitter”
4.) Facebook Followers: Same rules as the two above: Follow me on Facebook at The Girl Who Ran Everywhere for another extra entry, and post a separate comment below stating “I like you on FB.”
5.) Facebook Followers Opportunity #2: Same rules as all of the above: Follow Naragansett Running Festival on Facebook here for another extra entry, and post a separate comment below stating “I like Gansett Runs on FB.”

Yes, I know what you are going to ask…Can I really enter 5 times??? YES YOU CAN! (And please do!)
Winner will be chosen at random on March 22nd using random.org. Winner will be notified by a blog post on March 22nd so make sure you click back here to check!

One lucky winner will get the coupon code that I will privately inbox you for your free race entry!

So enter away and let’s be friends who run a race together!!!

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***UPDATED 3/22/14 at 6:45 am-THE WINNER IS ERIN AT GoSuperMamaGo! Congratulations, lady! Email at TheGirlWhoRanEverywhere@gmail.com and I will give you the code!